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the arms of his hands were made strong by unto them, and blessed them; every one the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from according to his blessing he blessed them. thence is the shepherd, the stone of Is- 29 And he charged them, and said unto rael :)
them, I am to be gathered unto my people : 25 Even by the God of thy father, who bury me with my fathers in the cave that is shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who in the field of Ephron the Hittite, shall bless thee with blessings of heaven 30 In the cave that is in the field of Machabove, blessings of the deep that lieth under, pelah, which is before Mamre, in the land blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: of Canaan, 'which Abraham bought with the
26 The blessings of thy father have pre- field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession vailed above the blessings of thy progenitors of a buryingplace. unto the utmost bound of the everlasting 31 There they buried Abraham and Sahills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, rah his wife; there they buried Isaac and and on the crown of the head of him that Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. was separate from his brethren.
32 The purchase of the field and of the cave 27 | Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in that is therein was from the children of Heth. the morning he shall devour the prey, and at 33 And when Jacob had made an end of night he shall divide the spoil.
commanding his sons, he gathered up his 28 | All these are the twelve tribes of feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, Israel:" and this is it that their father spake I and was gathered unto his people.
8 Chap 47. 30. 9 Chap. 23. 16.
Verse 3. “ Reuben.”—It is understood that Jacob here enumerates the rights of Reuben as a first-born, of which, in consequence of his crime, he was to be deprived ; namely, the birthright or double portion of the inheritance, which was given to Joseph; the priesthood, which ultimately fell to Levi ; and the sovereignty which became Judah’s. As here foretold, the tribe of Reuben never excelled or rose to eminence. It was also, with the other tribes beyond Jordan, the first that was carried into captivity.
5. "Simeon and Levi.”—The disapprobation with which these two full brothers are mentioned, refers to their cruel and treacherous conduct in the affair at Shechem (ch. xxxiv. 2—19). The concluding clause of v. 7 was literally fulfilled. The tribe of Simeon was never of any importance. At first they had only a small portion, consisting of a few towns and villages in the least favourable part of Judah's inheritance; and at an after-period they formed colonies in the outskirts of the promised land, in territory won from the Edomites and Amalekites. The Jews believe that the meagre inheritance and straitened circumstances of the tribe of Simeon obliged many of its members to seek a subsistence among the other tribes by acting generally as schoolmasters to their children. As to the tribe of Levi, althongh it afterwards recovered its character in part, in consequence of its zeal against idolatry (Exod. xxii. 26, et seq.), and was intrusted with the priesthood and the religious instruction of the people, it was, like Simeon, dispersed and scattered in Israel. It had no inheritance except forty-eight towns in different parts of Canaan. Thus the brethren were not only divided from each other, but distributed in sections among the other tribes.
8. " Juilah.”—We cannot trace out all the details of this remarkable prophecy, as is ably done in Hales’s • Analysis of Chronology,' and many theological commentaries. But we may observe, that, as his father's blessing intimates, the tribe of Judah seems on all occasions to have possessed the pre-eminence. It led the van in the grand march from Egypt to Palestine (Num. x, 14): it was the first appointed after the death of Joshua to expel the Canaanites (Judges i. 2): the first of the judges, Othniel, the nephew of Caleb, was of this tribe: David, who was of this tribe, was nominated to the sovereign power, which he transmitted to his descendants; and from the same tribe and family sprang Curist himself, in whom so many of the Old Testament predictions centre. The 10th and 11th verses seem to indicate that Judah's country should be a land of vineyards and pastures, which was the fact. The famous vineyards of Engedi and of Sorek (Sol. Song, i. 14) were in this tribe, as was also the brook Eshcol, near which the spies obtained the extraordinary clusters of grapes mentioned in Num. xiii. 23, 24. The domain of Judah was also noted for its fine pastures. Josephus observes, generally, that it was a good pasture country; and this might indeed be inferred from the fact, that the sojourning of the patriarchs with their numerous flocks and herds was chiefly within its limits. Even now, in the desolation which has overspread this “glory of all lands," Judæa still affords fine pastures. Dr. Shaw observes, that “the mountains abound with shrubs and a delicate short grass ; both which the cattle are more fond of than of such plants as are more common to fallow grounds and meadows.” He adds, that the milk of the cattle fed on these mountain-pastures is more rich and delicious, and their flesh more sweat and nourishing than could otherwise be obtained.
9. “ Lion's whelp,” « lion” and “ old lion.”—The word g95 (lebia), rendered " old lion," is now generally considered to mean a " lioness.” But as this reading is not unquestionable, we venture to prefer the rendering of our version, particularly as the text is the more intelligible, the progression from a " lion's whelp” to an “old lion” being, seemingly, the leading idea of the comparison. The meaning of it seems to be, that Judah should at first be warlike and enterprizing ; but in the end, satisfied with its conquests, should seitle in repose, and yet remain so formidable that none would venture to assault it.
13. “ Zebulun."— It is here foretold that Zebulun should become a maritime tribe, with a sea-coast bordering on the territories of the great commercial state of Zidon. This distinct and minute specification of locality, so long before the conquest and division of the Promised Land took place, is very remarkable.
14. “ Issachar is a strong ass,”—literally “ an ass of bone,” or “ bony ass.”—Judah having been compared to a lion, Issachar is here described as an ass, to denote the strength and patience of this tribe, and its assiduity in the labours of the field. That its allotment was pleasant and fertile, as here described, is evinced, among other circumstances, by what Josephus says of Lower Galilee, in which it lay :-“The soil is universally rich and fruitful, and full of plantations of various trees ; insomuch, that by its fruitfulness it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation. Accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants.” The tribe of Issachar is scarcely mentioned in the wars and troubles of the Jews. It was not a warlike tribe; and as its name does not occur in the account of the wars in which the other eight and half tribes on the west of the Jordan were engaged with the natives, it seems that they made no attempt to drive out the old inhabitants, but dwelt among them, and submitted to their rule; fulfilling the prediction in verse 15. The text, and this inference, warrant the observation of Buffon, who remarks that, although Issachar was a strong ass, "able to refuse a load as well as to bear it ;” yet, “like the passive drudge which symbolized him, he preferred inglorious ease to the resolute vindication of his liberty, a burden of tribute to the gains of a just and well-regulated freedom, and a yoke of bondage to the doubtful issue of war."
16. “ Dan."'-Jacob, having first enumerated the children of Leah, now proceeds to those of Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah. It is observable, that the patriarch begins with intimating that his sons by the handmaids were to inherit equally with the other sons, as one of the tribes of Israel. The word Dan means “judge ;” and the prophecy here and elsewhere has allusion to the name. This was a very numerous and warlike tribe, not more noted, it would seem, for its boldness than for its stratagems and craft; verifying the comparison to a serpent in the next verse. All the exploits of the tribe illustrate this character, such as the doings of Samson, who was of this tribe; and their sending spies to discover what part of the unconquered country was weakest, and then surprising the careless and secure inhabitants of Laish, afterwards Dan, near the sources of the Jordan-a place at a great distance from the proper territory of the tribe.
17. “ Serpent”—"an adder"-(Un), nachash)—seems to be a general designation for any individual of the serpent kind, as is the case with the Arabic word suban, by which it is rendered. The same animal is meant in both divisions of the verse, agreeable to the genius of Hebrew poesy, which is wont, in the first hemistich of the analogy, to mention a thing obscurely, or in general terms, “ Dan shall be a serpent in the way ;” and, in the second hemistich, to be more precise and explicit, “ An adder in the path :" or, as we would render it, “ A cerastes, or horned viper, upon the path.”
The Hebrew 1D'IV (shephiphon) appears to be the Coluber cerastes of Linnæus; grows to the length of eighteen inches or two feet, and is distinguished by a small prominence or horn above each eye, whence its Greek name xspeestas, from xapes, a horn. Nicander cites the horned viper as remarkable for lurking among the sand and in wheel-tracks: and from its retreat it bites the heels of the passing horses, whose hinder legs become almost immediately torpid from the activity of the poison. They are the more dangerous as sheir greyish colour renders it difficult to distinguish them from the sand in which they lurk. They are found in Arabia, Syria, and Egypt.
19. " Gad.”—This tribe is frequently mentioned as one of the most valiant in Israel. Commentators differ in the application of the prediction.
20. " Asher.”—The lot of Asher corresponds with his name, which signifies “ happiness." The territory of the tribe of Asher was very fertile in corn, wine, and oil. The word low shemen, rendered “fat,” equally signifies “oil ;” and it is well observed by the author of the Universal History,' that “the blessing spoken to Asher is capable of a double sense ; namely, either that his country should be the most fertile, and produce the noblest corn in the whole country of Palestine, which it actually did; or else that it should abound with the finest and most delicious oil, which his portion was also remarkable for, insomuch that its oil was the most famed in all Canaan.” In the parallel blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii. 24) it is said, that “ Asher shall dip his feet in oil.” In Judges xviii. 10, the Danite spies describe part of the land which formed Asher's lot, as “a place where there is no want of any thing that is on the earth."
21. “ Naphtali is a hind let lvose : he gireth goodly words.”—There is high authority for thus reading this very difficult text. But the want of any connexion between the clauses of the sentence, and the different senses of which the leading words, translated “hind” box ailah) and “words” (90x amrai) are susceptible, has occasioned much perplexity. Bochart advocated the reading of the Septuagint, which regards ailah as a tree, and amrai as its branches. Modern commentators have generally concurred in Bochart's views, and since his time the text has commonly been rendered to the effect: "Naphtali is like a goodly tree (oak or terebinth] that puts forth lovely branches.” If, however, we receive this rendering, the ensuing blessing of Joseph seems too like a repetition of the figure employed in this; for which, and other reasons, we strongly incline to the reading of Gesenius, who translates: * Naphtali is a slender hind, that brings forth lovely young ones.” The word amar in Chaldee means a lamb, and may without impropriety be extended to the young of the hind. (See Gesenius in 70x.) Understood as in our version, the first clause of the prophecy is apprehended by some to apply to the victory of Barak, who was of this tribe, over Sisera (Judges iv.); and the second clause to the eloquent song in which that victory was commemorated. But both the renderings which make Naphtali like a tree with lovely branches, or like a hind producing lovely young, may be understood to apply to the fecundity of this tribe, and we may venture to conjecture that it might not be without an allusion to some superiority in their personal appearance. Finally, some good commentators are content, with the Chaldee, to understand the text to express, which was really the case, that Naphtali should have a pleasant and fertile land. “The territory of the tribe," says Hales, “ bordered on Lebanon, so celebrated for beauty and fertility; and when David was crowned king of all Israel at Hebron, this and the neighbouring tribes supplied meat, meal, cakes of figs, bunches of raisins, wine, oil, oxen, and sheep for the entertainment. 1. Chron. xii. 40."
22. “ Joseph.” — Israel now comes to his favourite son, on whose past history and future blessings he expatiates with a force and beauty of language and expression which no translation can adequately render. We think that we shall consult the advantage of the reader better by laying before them the admirable version of Dr. Boothroyd than by any number of detached notes of the separate clauses pointing out the better alternatives. The learned translator's version of the whole of this chapter is excellent, although there are some few points on which we should venture to differ from him. There is also a very good translation in Dr. Hales's • Analysis of Chronology.'
“A fruitful stem is Joseph,
A fruitful stem by a fountain ;
And strong were his arms and his hands ;
Through the power of the mighty one of Jacob,
On the crown of the chief among his brethren.” The meaning of the retrospective part of this passage is too obvious to require indication, but it may be well to observe how exactly the prophetic part was fulfilled in the lot of the tribes descended from Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The two tribes Aourished greatly, occupying a fertile and extensive country on both sides of the Jordan, and, unitedly, much exceeded in population any other tribe, so that they complained to Joshua, “Why hast thou given me but one lot, and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, because the Lord hath blessed me hitherto ?” (Josh. xviï. 14.) Every variety of national and political blessing seems studiously accumulated upon the head of Joseph ; blessings of climate and temperature, with fertilising dews and rains, are promised from the heaven above ; an ample supply of water ; abundance in the products of the earth ; wombs prolific of children and of cattle; and great distinction among the other tribes – seem to be clearly pointed out, and were actually enjoyed. Besides Joshua, five out of the twelve succeeding judges are expressly said to have been of this tribe ; and it is probable that Deborah and Abdun also belonged to it: and when the ten tribes revolted against the house of David, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite became king of Israel, and his family retained the crown for some generations ; and Ephraim remained the leading tribe in Israel until the Assyrian captivity.
27. “ Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.”—The Xi zeeb, (Canis Lupus of Linnæus), or wolf, has grown familiar to our minds as a ravenous beast, and the enemy of the fold. The sacred text intimates that the habits of the wolf are not only carnivorous, but that his delight and constant exercise from morning till night, and from night till morning, are to surprise the unprotected and to tear the weak in pieces. And this account of its habits coincides with the observation of travelleis, who concur in representing the wolf as continually on the prowl with an unsated appetite, and seizing every opportunity of doing harm, where its fears are not strong enough to overcome its thirst of blood. Most commentators agree in referring the comparison of Benjamin to a wolf, to the fierce and unjust contest in which the tribe engaged with the other tribes, and in which, after two victories, it was almost exterminated. (Judges xix. and xx.) After this, although the tribe gave the first king to Israel, in the person of Saul, it never was of much consequence, and was ultimately absorbed in the tribe of Judah, with which it retained its allegiance to the house of David when the other tribes revolted.
13 For his sons carried him into the land
of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of 1 The mourning for Jacob., 4 Joseph getteth leave of Pharaoh to go to bury him. 7 The funeral. 15
the field of Machpelah, which Abraham Joseph comforteth his brethren, who craved his 'bought with the field for a possession of a pardon. 22 His age. 23 He seeth the third ge buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before neration of his sons. 24 He prophesieth unto his Maire. brethren of their return. 25 He taketh an oath of them for his bones. 26 He dieth, and is chested.
14 | And Joseph returned into Egypt,
he, and his brethren, and all that went up And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and with him to bury his father, after he had wept upon him, and kissed him.
buried his father. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants 15 | And when Joseph's brethren saw the physicians to embalm his father: and that their father was dead, they said, Joseph the physicians embalmed Israel.
will peradventure hate us, and will certainly 3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; requite us all the evil which we did unto him. for so are fulfilled the days of those which 16 And they 'sent a messenger unto Joare embalmed : and the Egyptians 'mourned seph, saying, Thy father did command, for him threescore and ten days.
before he died, saying, 4 And when the days of his mourning 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, were past, Joseph spake unto the house of I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brePharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace thren, and their sin; for they did unto thee in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the of Pharaoh, saying,
trespass of the servants of the God of thy 5 ?My father made me swear, saying, Lo, father. And Joseph wept when they spake I die: in my grave which I have digged for unto him. me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou 18 And his brethren also went and fell bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I down before his face; and they said, Behold, pray thee, and bury my father, and I will we be thy servants. come again.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: 6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy for am I in the place of God? father, according as he made thee swear. 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against
7 G And Joseph went up to bury his me; but God meant it unto good, to bring father: and with him went up all the ser- to pass, as it is this day, to save much people vants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, alive. and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nou
8 And all the house of Joseph, and his rish you, and your little ones. And he combrethren, and his father's house: only their forted them, and spake kindly unto them. little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, 22 | And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and they left in the land of Goshen.
his father's house: and Joseph lived an hun9 And there went up with him both cha- dred and ten years. riots and horsemen: and it was a very great 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim's children, company.
of the third generation : "the children also of 10 And they came to the threshingfloor Machir the son of Manasseh were obrought of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there up upon Joseph's knees. they mourned with a great and very sore la- 24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I mentation : and he made a mourning for his die: and "God will surely visit you, and bring father seven days.
you out of this land, unto the land which he 11 And when the inhabitants of the land, sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the 25 And "Joseph took an oath of the chilfloor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous dren of Israel, saying, God will surely visit mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the you, and ye shall carry up my bones from name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which hence. is beyond Jordan.
26 So Joseph died, being an hundred 12 And his sons did unto him according and ten years old: and they embalmed him, as he commanded them:
and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. 8. That is, the mourning of the Egyptians.
6 Heb. charged. Verse 2. " The physicians embalmed Israel.”—The Egyptian custom of so embalming the dead as to preserve the corpse for perhaps a thousand generations arose from the doctrine of their religion, which taught that the continuance of the soul in the region of blessedness was contingent upon the preservation of the body. When that perished, the banished soul had to begin anew its career in connexion with physical existence, and after migrating, during a period of 3000 years, through various forms of being, ultimately became again associated with the human form, and when its life terminated, was to be again admitted to its precarious felicity-separated from, but connected with, the “ earthly tabernacle” which had been left in the world exposed to the injuries of men and the accidents of time. It is obvious how this principle would operate in originating elaborate and careful processes for the embalming of the dead.
1 Heb. wept.
* Chap. 47. 29.
4 Acts 7. 16. 5 Chap. 23. 16.
9 Num. 32.39
We regret that the limits of a note preclude us from giving that attention to this curious subject which it deserves. Herodotus, who was in Egypt about 460 years s.c., first described the process of embalming. For a translation of the text of Herodotus and other matters connected with this subject, we refer our readers to the chapter on · Mummies,' in the second volume on · Egyptian Antiquities' in the · Library of Entertaining Knowledge.'
3. “ Forly days," &c.—It is rather difficult to understand the meaning of the different numbers, forty days and seventy days. Herodotus mentions seventy days as the time which the body lay in nitre, which agrees with the time of mourning for Jacob. Diodorus, however, takes no notice at all of this process, which seems to have been often omitted, and says that the embalming occupied forty days. Bishop Warburton conjectures that the whole period of pickling and embalming occupied seventy days: that is to say, that the body was laid in nitre thirty days, and that the remaining forty, were occupied in preparing it with gums and spices, which was the proper embalming; Thus, therefore, forty days may be said to be the time of embalming, although the corpse was seventy days in the hands of the embalmers. This view certainly does not obviate all the discrepancies between the several accounts of Moses, Herodotus, and Diodorus ; but it is the best attempt we have met with. It is remarkable, however, that Moses's numbers should contain both the numbers mentioned by the others. It is also observable that Diodorus mentions seventy-two days as the period of mourning for the king, whence some have conceived that Jacob was mourned for as a king, and that the seventy in the text is a round number for seventy-two. Be this as it may, it must give some idea of the mourning for Jacob to state the observances during the mourning for a king, as given by Diodorus. They shut up their temples, and abstained during the seventy-two days from all sacrifices, solemnities, and feasts. They rent their clothes, begrimed their heads and faces with mud, and in this condition men and women went about in companies of two or three hundred, with their loins girded and their breasts bare, singing plaintive songs, reciting the virtues of him they had lost. During the time of mourning they abstained from wine and generous diet. They ate no animal meat, or food dressed by fire, and abstained from their customary baths and anointings. Every one mourned as for the loss of his dearest child, and spent all the day in lamentations. A great part of this agrees in essentials with what Herodotus states as the observances of an ordinary mourning. The difference was probably only one of duration, and in that for a king being general.
25. “ Ye shall carry up my bones from hence."—We see in the next verse that the body of Joseph was embalmed. In this and many other places, “ bones” denote generally a corpse. The Israelites were enabled to perform this promise ; for after carrying the mummy of Joseph about with them in their forty years' wanderings, they were enabled to deposit it in the ground which Jacob bought at Shechem (Josh. xxiv. 32). Josephus seems to say, that the bodies of the other patriarchs were carried up to Hebron, and buried there soon after they died. This is probable; and that the same was not done by Joseph's remains, is probably explained by the unwillingness of the Egyptians to part with the mummy of so prominent a public character as Joseph had been. The earnest desire of the patriarchs, that their remains should be deposited in the country which they regarded as their native land, and which was to be possessed by their descendants, does not call for particular elucidation. It is a frequent occurrence among ourselves for the remains of persons of consideration who have died abroad, to be brought home for interment. We have all read of the practice among the American Indians to carry away with them the bones of their fathers, when the encroaching white men obliged them to migrate from their ancient seats.
26. “ He was put in a coffin.”—This is certainly mentioned here as a distinction. Coffins have never been much used in the East, although great personages have occasionally been deposited in marble sarcophagi. The custom was and is to wrap the body up closely in wrappers, or to swathe it with bandages and so bury it, or deposit it in the excavated sepulchre. In Egypt coffins were more in use than any where else, but still the common people were obliged to dispense with them. On the other hand, persons of wealth or distinction had two, three, or even four coffins, one within the other. Upon this subject we may also refer our readers to the second volume of • Egyptian Antiquities.'